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#215272 - 04/04/08 09:08 AM Sex Offender Recidivism
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA

Scientific American Mind - April 3. 2008

Once a Sex Offender Always a Sex Offender? Maybe not.

The popular perception of incurable sex criminals may be quite off the mark
By Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld

Sex crimes evince such strong feelings of revulsion and repugnance that it
is perhaps not surprising that people misunderstand their nature. The public
whose opinions are reinforced by portrayals in the media and in popular
culture believes that sex offenders will almost always repeat their
predatory acts in the future and that all treatments for perpetrators are
ineffective. The truth is not so cut and dried-and gives us cause for hope
in certain cases.
Before we discuss these beliefs a few basics are in order. The two most
common types of sex offenses are rape and child molestation but others exist
In most cases the victim usually female knows the perpetrator generally
male. By some estimates one third or more of all sex offenders are under the
age of 18with some even as young as five years. Most begin to offend
sexually in adolescence. Now what does the research tell us about common
beliefs?

Repeat Offenders

First the notion that recidivism (repeat offending) is inevitable needs a
second look. Recently sex crimes researcher Jill Levenson of Lynn University
in Florida and her colleagues found that the average member of the general
public believes that 75 percent of sex offenders will reoffend. This
perception is consistent with media portrayals in such television programs
as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit in which sex offenders are almost
always portrayed as chronic repeaters.

The evidence suggests otherwise. Sex crimes researchers R. Karl Hanson and
Kelly E. Morton-Bourgon of Public Safety Canada conducted a large-scale
meta-analysis (quantitative review) of recidivism rates among adult sex
offenders. They found a rate of 14 percent over a period averaging five to
six years. Recidivism rates increased over time reaching 24 percent by 15
years. The figures are clearly out of alignment with the public's more dire
expectations.

Also contrary to media depictions most offenders do not "specialize" in one
type of sex crime. Most are "generalists" who engage in a variety of sex and
nonsexual crimes as well. Hanson and Morton-Bourgon found that sex offenders
had a total recidivism rate (for both sex crimes and nonsexual violent
crimes) of approximately 36 percent over a period of five to six years.
Nevertheless perpetrators of different types of sex crimes exhibit varying
rates of repeat offending. The 15-year recidivism rate is 13 percent for
incest perpetrators 24 percent for rapists and 35 percent for child
molesters of boy victims.

When providing clarifications about the lower than generally acknowledged
rates of recidivism we must be careful not to oversimplify. Recidivism
research is as difficult as it is important. For instance although average
rates tell us what percentage reoffends one or more times we also need to be
aware that a subset reof­fends at a frighteningly high rate. In addition
there are reasons to think that published findings underestimate the true
rates. Most research necessarily omits those offenders who were not detected
and arrested or whose victims did not report the crime. Further many sex
offenders plea-bargain down to a nonsexual offense.

Still there are other reasons to believe that recidivism rates may not be
that different from what researchers have found. Frequent offenders are more
likely than other offenders to be caught. Many safeguards probably help to
keep the recidivism rate in check. Sex offenders released on probation are
closely monitored and those who are considered to be at high risk for
recidivism are required to register with authorities. These registries are
distributed to law-enforcement personnel. Finally states are legally
required to publicly identify higher-risk sex offenders. The Department of
Justice coordinates a Web site (WWW.FBI.gov/hq/cid/cac/registry.htm) that
enables anyone to search for the identity and location of known offenders.

Taking the research and its limitations into account it is still likely that
the public's belief that very high recidivism rates are well documented is
incorrectal though this verdict may change in the future.

Treatment Realities

If recidivism is not as common as people generally believe how do their
impressions of treatment's failure or success hold up? Levenson and her
colleagues also found that a whopping 50 percent of the public believes that
treatment for sex offenders is ineffective and will not prevent them from
relapsing. Yet some studies have shown that treatment can significantly
reduce recidivism for both sex and nonsexual crimes. Hanson and his
colleagues conducted a meta-analysis on treatment and found that 17 percent
of untreated subjects reoffended whereas 10 percent of treated subjects did
so. When recidivism rates for sex and nonsexual violent crimes were
combined51 percent of untreated and 32 percent of treated subjects
­reoffended.

The advantage for treatment over nontreatment does not appear to be that
large because meta-analyses group studies together they may mask the fact
that some of them found fairly large effects of treatment and others found
smaller or no effects. Results of this meta-analysis also suggest that we
might be making progress. More recent studies show significantly larger
treatment benefits than do the older studies.

Most approaches employ a number of treatments. The majority include two
components: cognitive-behavior therapy which aims to change sexually deviant
thoughts behaviors and arousal patterns and relapse prevention which aims to
teach sex offenders how to anticipate and cope with problems (such as
feelings of anger or loneliness) that can lead to reoffending.

Although the development of treatments for sex offenders is still in its
infancystudies show that therapy can make a difference. Sex offenders are
not all fated to repeat their horrible crimesand we-through the actions of
the general publicpolicy leaders and legislators-can encourage hope by
supporting further research on such therapies.


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#215324 - 04/04/08 11:26 AM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
What an interesting article!

One question I wish were addressed was how does the age of the offender when entering treatment affect the recitivism. If you catch it when they are young, is it highly curable? If you don't and wait until they are 20, 30, 40, is it quite difficult?

With 50 percent of the public believing that treatment for sex offenders is ineffective, it certainly must impact funding. We could all help that by speaking out in favor of more research and funding on such therapies.

_________________________
Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer
Liberté

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
Freedom

Paul Eluard

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#215705 - 04/05/08 08:30 PM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: LandOfShadow]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5778
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Research with juveniles shows very good results with treatment. Like most problems, the earlier you catch it and treat it, the less likely it will persist. I believe the meta-analysis of the studies cited here are all adult offenders. So, even though it is encouraging to find that the recidivism with adults is better than previously believed, it is better still with juveniles.


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#217741 - 04/13/08 03:50 AM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
USFbull Offline
Guest

Registered: 03/30/08
Posts: 92
Loc: Florida
I'm sure I'm bitter and angry, but in my opinion once a perp always a perp. You may not actually commit a crime, but you may consider and fantisize about it, and may simply be prevented by a fear of prison, probation, registration etc. I have no sympthaty for a one-time offender.Honestly do I want my tax money going to pay for Johnny Perp to "get better" so he can lead a worthless life on unemployment and welfare? I'll give 27 cents to perp rehab, 27 cents, enough to buy a bullet.

_________________________
Neither fear nor courage saves us.
Unnatural vices Are fathered by our heroism.
Virtues Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from
the wrath-bearing tree.
~T.S. Eliot~

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#217787 - 04/13/08 10:13 AM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: USFbull]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Never mind he is 12 or 18 years old, has never know sex except incest by his father since age 6, has acted out and never received therapy or been believed about the incest...

_________________________
Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer
Liberté

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
Freedom

Paul Eluard

Top
#217788 - 04/13/08 10:14 AM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: USFbull]
AndyJB2005 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 1242
Loc: Saint Paul, Minnesota
OK we'll follow your plan, USF, and then abuse will continue in the world without end. But hey, at least we got vengeance. That's all that matters, right?

_________________________
Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words. -- Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

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#217796 - 04/13/08 11:09 AM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: USFbull]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6376
Loc: 2.5 NATO Nations
Originally Posted By: USFbull
I'll give 27 cents to perp rehab, 27 cents, enough to buy a bullet.


WHAT?.......................................................................................................WHAT?????

What if the offender is 12 years old????like my perps were when they raped me (I was 7.5).

I still have not forgiven them, but I can see that 12 yos dont just do that without some history behind them.

Would I call for their death? HELL NO!!!!

Can we stop the infantile linch-mob posturing here at MS? Take your violence to the NAMBLA site where you might actually scare a perp....cuz you are not impressing anyone here.

_________________________
Jesus Loves The Hell Outta Me!

Still's Globs

New Video

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#217809 - 04/13/08 01:49 PM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: Still]
USFbull Offline
Guest

Registered: 03/30/08
Posts: 92
Loc: Florida
Ok I wasn't attempting to scare anyone and I should of clarified who my comments where directed at. Do I believe in rehabilitation for juvenile perps? Yes, my perp was 8, and I believe he was abused, he never saught help and now works a minimum wage job blowing his life away on pot and alcohol, could rehab of saved him? I think so. I was thinking the 40 year old man that attacks a kid in a public restroom. The upper-middle class socialite they find with thousands of child porn pictures on his computer. My opinion is harsh but logical, a convicted adult sex offender will not economically contribute to society,and the only pedophile thats contributed anything culturally is Elrond Hubbard, who founded the wonderful Church of Scientology (haha). So why should I have to give my money to rehabilitate a 25 year old guy who raped a 14 year old girl? Assuming he is convicted he will never hold a reasonable job or anything of the like, it isn't economically sound. Sorry for the misunderstanding everyone, wrote that post late-night. Once again though I am all for rehabilitation for juveniles.

_________________________
Neither fear nor courage saves us.
Unnatural vices Are fathered by our heroism.
Virtues Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from
the wrath-bearing tree.
~T.S. Eliot~

Top
#217818 - 04/13/08 02:24 PM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: USFbull]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
USFbull,

Originally Posted By: USFbull
I'm sure I'm bitter and angry, but in my opinion once a perp always a perp. You may not actually commit a crime, but you may consider and fantisize about it, and may simply be prevented by a fear of prison, probation, registration etc. I have no sympthaty for a one-time offender.Honestly do I want my tax money going to pay for Johnny Perp to "get better" so he can lead a worthless life on unemployment and welfare? I'll give 27 cents to perp rehab, 27 cents, enough to buy a bullet.


You're of course welcome to your opinion. "Free country" and all that. And as we've seen on this site recently you certainly aren't alone. But the point Ken is making is that this view is erroneous. This conclusion is the result of critical investigations by many pioneering researchers, among them Ken himself, who has worked in the field longer than some of us have been alive (sorry Ken!!! \:D ).

One thing I have learned in my own recovery is that nothing is gained by claiming, as you are doing, that "I don't care what the truth is, my opinion is otherwise". This is a sure-fire ticket to getting stuck in years of recriminations and rage that get us nowhere.

Dichotomous thinking - viewing the world in terms of black and white with no gray in between - is a trap that derails the recovery of many survivors. Why? Because the inevitable corollary of "them/us" includes such ideas as these: "the abuser is endlessly powerful/I am abysmally weak", "I am not fully healed, therefore my recovery is a failure", "I have acted out, therefore I am no better than a perp", "the abuse could resume at any time (even when the abuser is dead)", etc. I'm not lecturing you; I just say so because I have fallen into such holes myself many times.

An absolute key to our recovery is to recognize that abusers are not some demonic "other". They are human beings like us. They have weaknesses that can be addressed in therapy. Their power over us continues only so long as we allow it to continue. Abusers age and become frail old men who no longer know or care who their victims are or what they are doing with their lives. Abusers fear us more than we fear them. The sky will not fall if we disclose to loved ones and friends.

I don't mean by any means to excuse what abusers do. I will never forgive those who harmed me. Not ever. Nor do I mean to minimize the impact of abuse. The man who hurt me eventually took everything but my life, and he came close to claiming even that. Nor do I mean to trivialize how hard it is to face the task of recovery. There are still days where I think I will never be able to do this.

But my recovery, such as it is, was enriched enormously once I was willing to see the facts as they really are. It is of course comforting to claim the moral high ground, but the time I spent on those lofty heights got me nowhere; it simply wasted my emotional resources and led me into fruitless raging and questioning.

If we want to recover and live in happiness and peace in the real world, then it's in the real world that we have to work. Refusing to demonize abusers any longer is basically to break their power over how we think and act.

Just some thoughts. As I said, how you view these matters is up to you. But then, you have to live with the consequences.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#217820 - 04/13/08 02:34 PM Re: Sex Offender Recidivism [Re: USFbull]
AndyJB2005 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 1242
Loc: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Your argument is far from logical. I've worked with several "successful" (whatever your definition is) convicted pedophiles. Authors, computer programmers, etc etc. I've even known a few who have worked for our local chapter of Stop It Now (dot) org -- a national activist group dedicated to ending child abuse.

Why should we give money to rehabilitate? BECAUSE WE WANT CHILD ABUSE TO STOP! You can't just pretend it doesn't exist and hope it goes away -- at least if you expect things to change.



_________________________
Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words. -- Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

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